Climate Deniers Bash Solar for Creating Jobs

May 6, 2017

The conservative, climate science denying, American Enterprise Institute scored an own goal with this tweet, proving that solar energy creates 79x as many jobs as coal.

Now, you see, from their perspective, representing the fraction of one percent “job creators” that the current administration is trying to please – this makes sense. Who wants to have to hire a bunch of expensive, unpredictable human beings?


Solar jobs in America increased at an “historic” pace in 2016 on “unprecedented” consumer demand as the cost of solar panels declined, according to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2016.

The report – now in its seventh edition – found that the solar industry accounted for two percent of all jobs created in the U.S. over the past year, with solar jobs increasing in 44 of the 50 states.

As of November 2016, 260,077 solar workers were employed by the industry, “representing a growth rate of 24.5 percent since November 2015.” Over the 12 month period, the solar industry was responsible for more than one in every 50 new jobs created in the U.S.


New generation of mining equipment. See the cab for the driver? Neither do I. That’s the point.

“With a near tripling of solar jobs since 2010, the solar industry is an American success story that has created hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs,” Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation, said in a statement.

“In 2016, we saw a dramatic increase in the solar workforce across the nation, thanks to a rapid decrease in the cost of solar panels and unprecedented consumer demand for solar installations,” Luecke added.

“More than ever, it’s clear that solar energy is a low-cost, reliable, super-abundant American energy source that is driving economic growth, strengthening businesses, and making our cities smarter and more resilient.”

California had the highest number of jobs in solar, with Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada and Florida following behind.

“Solar is an important part of our ever expanding clean energy economy in Massachusetts, supporting thousands of high-skilled careers across the Commonwealth,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said.

“Through the continued development of solar incentive programs, Massachusetts is positioned to double the amount of solar for half the cost to ratepayers and maintain our position as one of the best states in the country for energy diversity.”



19 Responses to “Climate Deniers Bash Solar for Creating Jobs”

  1. Bill Lorch Says:

    Yesterdays photo of the coal museum in KY says it all; iT IS A PHOTO ofe building being SOLAR yes SOLAR powered !!! Is there anymore to say?????

  2. Gingerbaker Says:

    And they have a point, to a certain deceptive extent.

    What have we seen in the RE arena? A huge marketing push for rooftop solar, which DOES require a lot of people installing a big heavy PV system up in the air with every install a somewhat custom job onto your unique roof and the manufacture and installation of millions of duplicative electronic control systems.

    This DOES hire a lot of people, and will be a great source of work for many for a while. But the whole beauty of RE is the “set it and forget it” nature of the tech. You are harvesting free energy with simple machines that last forever.

    Very unlike the fossil fuel industry, which uses thousands of people to find, dig up, pump, transport, purify, transport, pump, burn increasingly expensive energy in a system that is NOT “set it and forget it”.

    We like that the solar PV industry employs people, but these ARE temporary jobs that belie the true beauty of solar power.

    And, once again, you gotta be impressed by the formidable rhetorical and propagandistic skills of the enemy.

    • livinginabox Says:

      “We like that the solar PV industry employs people, but these ARE temporary jobs that belie the true beauty of solar power.” – That’s because renewable energy is in an expansion phase. Once it matures, there will still be new installations, but at a somewhat lower level.
      “You are harvesting free energy with simple machines that last forever.” – Nothing lasts forever. All installations need periodic maintenance and eventual repair / replacement.

      The industry will settle-down to a slower growth-rate and there will be servicing / upgrades / replacement due to weather / storm damage & etc.
      Batteries will need to be replaced periodically.
      While not solar, wind turbines need to be repaired / serviced or replaced.

  3. Don Osborn Says:

    Of course what these fossil apologists conveniently leave out is the fact that the work a fossil worker does in a year generates just that year, each solar worker’s yearly work generates for 30+ years! So divide by 30. It takes just 2 (not 79) solar workers to produce same amount of electric power as one coal worker — about the same as the natural gas workers. Pretty darn good for clean air, clean water, helping to reduce climate change, AND saving real green ($$$) for both the solar customer and the rest of us as well!!!

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      I have extreme doubts that the AEI counted all the jobs that were needed to build the titanic amount of infrastructure that underpins the fossil fuel industry:

      hundreds of gigantic fuel refineries, tens of thousands of trucks, a million miles of pipes constructed and installed, a million oil wells, fifty thousand gas stations; hundreds of thousands of miners with black lung, entire train systems.

      Oh, and not to mention the tens of thousands of quintillion dollars it will take to adapt to global warming over the next millennia.

      • Don Osborn Says:

        One can only count current jobs as that was the whole point of both the various jobs studies and AEI’s misleading response. I am not sure that “hundreds of thousands of miners with black lung” or “tens of thousands of quintillion dollars it will take to adapt to global warming over the next millennia” fall in to any sort of “Benefits of Fossil” column.

      • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

        Indeed, they ‘forgot’ to include the doctors and nurses employed in palliative care of black lung and other horrible diseases, as well as a myriad of other jobs that flourish as a result of poisoning the environment and all living things at cellular level and the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.

        Undertakers and stonemasons are having a ball, and graveyard plots are going through the roof.

        Yes, it would be quite an exercise to list all the jobs that the coal industry is responsible for…

        Sea wall engineers, housing renovation, roofing contractors, dam strengthening, bridge repair etc etc etc… a country could spend all its GDP on standing still or going backwards!

  4. J4Zonian Says:

    If we do this right, the solar, wind, geothermal, efficiency, rail, and other renewable expansion will last 10 years at a gallop then at least 10 more at a trot, then settle down into a walk of maintenance mode while we plan and carry out plans to adjust (equal pay for all, fewer hours for all…) The same with permaculture, the best answer to agricultural emissions and soil erosion and toxicity problems. It relies on perennials, landforms, and other “capital expenses” of labor that then yield with less work later.
    (swales, for example )

    We have to emphasize that even with all those workers, solar and wind are still cheaper than fossils and still getting cheaper, and efficiency is the cheapest energy source of all.

    Don Osborn may have a somewhat useful idea but the calculations are questionable at best.

    In fact, if we do what we need to do–implement a climate mobilization like the one the US used to win WWII–we’ll increase jobs tremendously now, and then the heavy work of constructing infrastructure, farms, and factories will slow down as the population ages and shrinks. (We need to reduce population growth in other countries, too, by helping them (and us) be more economically and politically equal, more educated (especially women), and secure, in sickness, old age, and hard times. We need to have a minimum national income and universal health care to help people through this transition time, paid for with much, much higher taxes on the rich. (In fact it would help a lot if the minimum national (or world) income were the same as the maximum income (maybe adjusted for local conditions).

    We also have to organize on the state and local level–what Indiana just did will not only leave them out of the energy revolution, it will hurt the country and regional grid.

    • Don Osborn Says:

      J4Z, While I agree with some of your comments, I find surprising the comments on the calculations. It is VERY straight forward. The coal that a miner mines or natural gas drilled and pumped is basically used for generation in that year. So it gets credited for one year worth of generation. The solar system that is installed generate without need for further fuel for 30+ years so it gets 30 years worth of generation credit. Seems pretty straight forward. Yes you can drill down in to various complexities but the true comparison is much closer to the 2.6 persons in solar resulting in the same generation as the 1 person in coal or the 2 in natural gas. The bottom line is:
      1) Solar is not particularly more “labor inefficient” than fossil fuels
      2) Solar (and wind and energy efficiency) is where the job growth is and the “new economy” — coal jobs ain’t coming back.
      3) When all is accounted for, solar and wind are the more competitive energy resources.
      4) And on top of that they are already helping to save the world while saving the other green ($$).
      Welcome to the Solar Century.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        I certainly agree with your numbered points and the general drift of your post. But the calculations, like virtually all such things, are more complicated than that. First, despite Forest Trump’s lies about bringing jobs back, even if we kept burning coal at the same rate we are, or faster, the jobs will keep disappearing for the same reason they have been for decades: automation. That changes the ratio; as will the decline of gas fields and the switch to even more desperate metapetrolic fuels–tar sands, oil shales, gasified and liquified coal, etc. I sure hope we can stop this but some will probably happen as the oil and gas industries collapse and people try to keep the oil train going.

        In fossil burners as well as renewables there’s a difference between rated capacity and actual generation. Which is being used?

        Then for the wind turbines and solar panels there’s maintenance, there’s replacement (while I’d like it to be otherwise, the most likely path will be for it to take as I said, at least 25 years for the construction phase to completely finish. Likely longer, since very few people understand the seriousness of the situation still, and we’re not going to do it as fast as we need to. By that time, the first turbines, solar panels and solar thermal plants already operating now will likely need replacement or updating, more because improving technology and siting make it more economic to do that rather than to continuing to operate the outmoded ones. Dramatic changes in efficiency and production of the technologies may change the ratio of workers to energy.

        And do we include increasing tidal power? Wave power? Waste biomass and other renewable technologies? Efficiency? Conservation and wiser lives like bicycling, walking, train transport instead of trucks and planes… and the employment adjustments to those?

        Clothesline paradox energies–passive and active solar water and space heating and cooling, actual clotheslines and other techs that disappear from energy stats when implemented but continue to replace other energy and storage–are another more complex issue.

        While I think this is all interesting, in the end it’s kinda immaterial. We need to switch to renewables as fast as humanly possible whatever the cost–such as installing overgeneration capacity in some (very limited) places so all needs are met. See? Lotsa complications! Fun!

        • Don Osborn Says:

          So true. Complex solutions for complex problems seem beyond those in the Administration (as well as modern solutions for modern problems). Cheers

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          “By that time, the first turbines, solar panels and solar thermal plants already operating now will likely need replacement or updating,”

          I think that is wrong – but, it would be a very interesting conversation to explore. 🙂

          • J4Zonian Says:

            As I said I think most of it will be tech advances and economics making it better to replace old systems (and recycle all the parts) than to keep running the old ones at a loss (of potential energy collection if nothing else), not because the old ones wear out. What thoughts do you have on it?

  5. ubrew12 Says:

    Simple question: How many people will coal and nat gas employ to get their trash back out of the atmosphere?

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      Zero. They made their profit, will go into liquidation and tax payers will be stuck with the bill, and the cost of their stay in prison.

  6. rabiddoomsayer Says:

    Coal is dead, no amount of rhetoric, no amount of lies, will bring it back. Trump cannot save coal, the AEI cannot save coal, coal is dead.

  7. miffedmax Says:

    Only takes on guy to operate the bucket in a strip mine, that’s true.

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